Are Fragrance Oils Safe?

Today’s question comes from Debbie:

“My dilemma is that I love making products with essential oils. All of my body products are made with essential oils and so I wanted to use them for candles and some wax melt tarts that I’m going to be making with beeswax and soy.

However I’ve had a lot of comments from people saying that I wouldn’t get enough impact from the fragrance and that essential oils are so expensive and it’s a waste of money.

I’ve been looking at cosmetic grade fragrance oils especially the phthalate free ones and have found a supplier that says the fragrances are free from sensitisers and they are suitable for use in candles. Does this mean they are phthalate free and are fragrance oils really ok?”

When you’re making scented candles or wax melts the most important thing to consider is the impact of the fragrance in use.  Do you want the fragrance to have a strong scent or not?

If you use just essential oils you will never get the same amount of impact as you do from especially created fragrance oils and so you really do need to take this into account.

Candles and wax melts are slightly different as with a candle you’re setting light to a wick and this will affect how the fragrance behaves — even with a fragrance oil. With wax melts you have a bit me leeway as you’re not setting light to anything.  I would suggest you just try a batch and see how it works for you.

Of course cost is also a major factor as the amount of essential oil you need will be far greater than if you used a specially created fragrance oil.  If you want to keep the cost down when using essential oils you are going to restrict the type of fragrances you can make by sticking to the cheaper oils — so think about that too.

Phthalates and sensitisers in fragrance are two different things and are topics I will cover in a bit more depth in future videos but just to briefly explain — sensitisers are components of a fragrance that can cause a skin reaction and so not something you need to worry about in a candle or wax melt as it will not be coming into contact with skin.

As for phthalates in fragrance — this is quite a hot topic which deserves a video all of its own but for now

Phthalate is a very broad term for materials with very different chemical structures — unfortunately they all get lumped in together which causes confusion.

The main one that is used in fragrance is DEP or diethyl phthlalate which is not a known sensitiser and is considered by IFRA to be safe for use in cosmetic and toiletry products.

There are many other types of phthalate which are considered to be harmful but these are not generally used in fragrances and are not permitted for use in cosmetic products in Europe. So make sure the fragrance oils you choose are EU compliant as we have the strictest standards here!

I hope that answers your question and do feel free to leave me a comment below or on the website.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer please send me an email to faq[at] and don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list on the website to get weekly videos directly in your inbox.

Want to make your own perfume?

In the Create Your Own Perfume Starter Guide, you’re shown exactly where to buy the best perfumery materials & equipment PLUS the essential steps to get started with making your own scent.